Burnout is a real thing – and you need to avoid it at all costs

Harry Simpson

Burn Out (2)

​burn out
phrasal verb of burn
1.be completely consumed and thus no longer aflame.

Sound like anyone you know?

Worse yet – does it hit even closer to home?

The official definition of ‘burn out’ is one which many of us can relate to. It’s certainly a phrase which is becoming more commonplace and widely accepted as a legitimate occurrence in the corporate world – despite its beginnings in the world of rock and roll – affecting almost 600,000 Brits each year.

Burning out is effectively the climax of a period of chronic workplace stress, resulting in physical and emotional exhaustion.

To be frank, it’s not good for anyone involved. And, with mental health at the forefront of everyone’s mind in 2020, it needs to be addressed within your business before it happens. Prevention is the best way of mitigating the negative effect burning out has on your employees, so here are our top tips for keeping the team happy, healthy and moreover engaged with their jobs.

Avoid pointless pressures

This is a safe place – we can be honest here. I’m talking about cutting out:

-Meetings about meetings
-Over-regular catch up calls (which could easily be done via email)
-Micromanagement tactics, constant reporting etc

In this modern world, there’s no excuse to be under-utilising the many communication tools at your disposal as a business. Efficiency and productivity aside, these tight but essentially unhelpful and unnecessary deadlines to meet, places to be and time spent away from fulfilling more critical aspects of their jobs can leave employees feeling panicked and anxious when it comes to time-management. Could you ease some of that pressure by communicating more effectively throughout the day/week, to save the need for many of the above circumstances?

Encourage breaks – think little but often

It could be as simple as a walk to grab coffee, ten minutes spent in the kitchen listening to a podcast or just stretching the legs for a lap around the office; stepping away from the task at hand allows staff time to breathe – physically AND mentally.

Taking time to reflect on what’s happening at work, where they’re at against their to-do list for the day and what they’ve achieved so far is key to managing time and prioritising effectively. Those few minutes away from their desk will pay dividends in the long term – for them and you.

Set solid expectations

Simply put, when staff are unsure of what they’re supposed to be doing, should have done or have left to do, it can cause stress, anxiety and even panic in some situations. Making sure that as a manager you’ve effectively communicated everyone’s role and responsibilities will leave no room for ambiguity and the (albeit, sometimes self-inflicted, but unavoidable none the less) pressure which comes along with it.

Take time to communicate and feedback with staff, always making sure that they can approach you with questions about their responsibilities and where they stand.

Talk about it

If we’re ever going to break the taboo about mental health, it’s going to happen this year.

Talk about it. Speak with your team on an ongoing and regular basis to make sure they’re doing okay. And, if they’re not, you’ll at least be pre-warned and hopefully able to help in some way. Talking helps in so many ways – and, believe it or not, just knowing that they’re able to talk about it if they need to in itself can help relieve the stresses and pressures which often lead to burn out.

And while we’ve got you…

Let it be known, and always bear in mind, that you, business leaders, managers, owners and entrepreneurs – you’re as susceptible, if not more so, to the perils of burn out, and all that follows in its wake. When you’re on a plane, they tell you to secure your own oxygen mask before helping your neighbour; think of your business in this way too.

If you’re not in the right space mentally and aren’t looking after yourself, how will you be able to do the same for your team?

Share with us your top tips for avoiding or preventing burn out – is it something you’ve experienced personally, or with a team member?

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